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Checking My Privilege

I started this blog to discuss issues and send my rants out into the world in hope that I am not the only person who thinks the way I think sometimes. Also to give my Facebook friends a break! As well as share awesome products and any tips I come across (of course!). I’m not an angry keyboard warrior, but I am able to discuss and write about things other than which lipstick you should be wearing (although lipstick is pretty important!).

I think it’s easy to get sidetracked and lose yourself a bit when writing online, you can get caught up trying to please everybody and censoring the things you publish. It’s also a bit awkward if you happen to represent any companies or brands on your blog. But I believe in open discussion. It’s good to open your mind to another persons perspective and be able to discuss things that some people are scared to say, but definitely thinking.

I realise it is a bit of a controversial topic, and while I don’t think this post is particularly offensive, I can only hope that it isn’t taken in the wrong way, but hey, this is the internet!

I’d like to discuss Privilege.

I’m sure you’ve seen this word thrown about on the internet more times than you’ve been Rick-Rolled.

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Gotcha!

‘Check your privilege’

‘He’s just a privileged, white, cis-gendered, hetero-normative male’

Okay, I made those quotes up, but you get the idea. It’s as if being a straight white male is a bad thing.

I came across an article suggesting that if you are privileged then you don’t have a right to comment. Oh really? The article included this lovely little game:

635831212189741040436280247_Check your privilege Bingo.jpg

I feel I have to point out that this was not a joke post. Apparently you can only feel hard done by if you are a fat black ugly gay female! This kind of stuff makes me so angry. It may have been made as a joke at first (surely?), but this article used it in a serious way. You actually can’t have anything going for you because if you do, you’re seen as a privileged person. I haven’t used this article as my only source. I see it more and more online now and have come across countless articles. People are calling others out constantly because they have something that’s seen as good about them.

When it comes to the bingo game, which is basically a list of the things I have seen people get called out on, firstly, there are a lot that people have no choice over in there! But there are some you do! And some that are just ridiculous! Again…this is not a joke! This person (and other people) actually discussed these things.

Human? I’m sorry what?
Not a red-head!? Go love your red-headed selves. I don’t get it, is it a bad thing?
First-world? So everyone with a computer in their home in the West should stop talking about privilege because they have it – great! Maybe that’ll stop it.

The ones that annoyed me more than anything though, were the ones that say educated and no criminal record. Yeah I’m privileged to have not been a criminal? You’re not born one! How about don’t commit crimes?

Also, you can choose to be educated. If you have a computer in front of you in order to share stupid pictures on the internet,then you can use it to learn. I understand that in some countries it is more difficult to get into some schools and universities. But intelligence is not all academic achievements. Some of the most intelligent people I know quit school early. They just never stopped learning!

Support mainstream political parties? What about when the non-mainstream one you like becomes mainstream. Is that not the plan with politics?

Anyway, moving on from the idiotic bingo game…

I’m not going to deny prejudice or racism . Of course it exists! And of course it shouldn’t!   I am so glad that things have moved forward in the last couple of hundred years, but there is still a way to go I think.

Yes, of course equality needs to be fought for, but do you think there is no inequality between other white males?

As you may know, I am a straight, white female. Lame huh, how privileged. I may have been born with a pale white face, but I can assure you, it didn’t get me where I am today (which is not anywhere amazing to be honest – privilege isn’t working out for me!)

That’s not to say I am not at all privileged. I have been born in a great country, I am surrounded by good family and friends and am lucky enough to be in good health. I don’t think this is a ‘privilege’ in the sense of the term being used though.  Everyone has something to feel thankful for.

I know I’ve got feminism as my card to play, but you know what? I don’t want it! I want to get places and do things on my own merit. Not as part of some company’s quota or to be seen as a radical alternative to a male. Not because society decided it was my time,  but because I worked hard enough to get there. There was a time when women had to show they could do just as well as males, and now we’re there. In the same jobs! That’s a massive achievement, however ridiculous it may be that it wasn’t always like that. I am not unaware of wage gaps or everyday sexism and believe it has to be fought for. But I’m not going to whinge at a guy because he offered me a drink. I’ll take that drink!

Side story: R and I were out one night for a quiet drink and when I went to the bar, an older man offered me a drink. I explained I was out with my partner and getting us both drinks so it was fine. He bought us both a cocktail. ‘What a gent’, I thought. Then we chatted and asked what he did and he worked in banking. He then proceeded to ignore me for the duration of the conversation and I’m pretty sure it is because I was a mere female!
While slightly offensive, I actually found it funny, because I’m pretty secure in myself. Just because he saw me that way, it doesn’t mean I am that way. Also, I wasn’t going to call the guy out on it and just be rude. I made the odd little comment about how I can discuss things too, then shut up and sipped my cocktail like a good girl. Banking is boring anyway!

What I don’t like about this ‘privileged’ buzzword, is that apparently a white male is only getting places because of it. He couldn’t possibly have worked hard his entire life to get where he is or become the person he has become. Any opinion he has doesn’t matter because he’s just a white male and doesn’t understand the real world. Does anyone else see how ridiculous this is? How absolutely backwards it is to put another person down because of their experiences  and the way they were born when that is the very thing that people who use the dreaded word are fighting for?
What about the white men that aren’t doing too well. Or do they not count?

I think what’s even worse is how white males have even adopted the word. People online are currently debating their guilt and shame at being born ‘privileged’. Are you joking? Guilty because of genes? That’s a new low.

There are young white women online calling other young white women privileged because they believe their opinions only come from living a perfect dream life (even though they have no idea because they’re all strangers!) Yay, feminism? The worst culprits seem to be the ones who label themselves as feminists!

I work hard, I am independent and I’m pretty strong (mentally, physically I’m weak as hell!). None of that came to me because of the colour of my skin and I don’t feel that being female has stopped me from doing anything that I want to do either.

I do believe that class, age, race and gender can make a difference in the way that you’re treated and think it’s disgusting. Everyone has experienced it at some point though. That’s when its time to show you’re better than that. Prove people wrong! Or just ignore the ignorant fools and get on with your life the way you want to.

When you tell people they’re privileged, you are doing the exact same thing you accuse people of! You’re perpetuating discrimination because you, ‘privilege’ word user, are discriminating too!

With regards to racism, feminism, and all the other isms, I’d rather celebrate how far we’ve come and rise above it.
Trust me I am a fighter of equality and care about all people being treated well. I stand up for others and am never afraid to go against a group of people to fight for what I believe in.

However, you do not become a higher being by putting people down. And you’re certainly not making a difference, just like I’m not, by sitting at a desk on some fancy technology in most likely a pretty nice home attacking anyone online with an opinion that differs from yours.

Before you go ranting and telling people to check their privilege, go away and check your own. We’re all here and we’re lucky to be. Everyone has a hard time and goes through things. Life is hard! Its how you come out of those times that make you the person you are.

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11 Comments

  • Reply Rosie

    I was once told that I could never understand what some was going through because of my tacit privilege….I replied with that I couldn’t understand why they didn’t want to help me understand why they were so angry with the world or why they thought I had any privilege at all just because I am straight and white. They don’t know about my childhood, education, my career path, my family….I could have been dumped in a bin at birth for all they know. All a load of prejudiced nonsense and another way to label others. I personally don’t care if someone is gifted something without earning it. Let people live their lives and try and be a bit more tolerant and we might all have a better time.

    28 February 2016 at 09:53
    • Reply Tina

      Exactly! Such a good point. It’s frustrating and completely hypocritical. I hate the labelling of everything now, I’m sure that’s what people wanted to get rid of at first, these little boxes that everyone is stuffed into. If others have an easier time of things then good for them! Also I do think you can understand something without living it. I don’t only have feelings on or care about the things I’ve experienced.

      28 February 2016 at 10:03
  • Reply Iga Berry (@igaberry1)

    So here I am revisiting one of the people that visited me in past month and what do I get? A damn good article. So yeah please visit me more often, leave comments so more often I have a chance to read something that makes me think. And despite the fact that I am actually, purposely not saying my opinion about this subject here I am definitely going to discuss it at home later.

    Connect with me:
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    28 February 2016 at 15:37
    • Reply Tina

      Thanks so much! I’ve noticed quite a few have read this without commenting, but I’m happy that it’s thought provoking and bringing a conversation up about the subject.
      Thanks very much for reading and I’ll certainly be back to look at yours. I think I’m following you, but will check your links 🙂

      28 February 2016 at 15:43
  • Reply Alice

    This is a truly wonderful, thought provoking post. I read it once, then I read it again. I sat and mulled it over before also showing my dad, who also adored it.
    A very well thought out post with lots of points for discussion!

    Alice | daintyalice.com

    28 February 2016 at 15:58
    • Reply Tina

      Thank you so much! I’m so glad that’s what people are getting from it. Glad you both liked it 🙂

      28 February 2016 at 16:00
  • Reply Lee

    I totally agree with what you are saying. The bingo card is an absolute joke. I mean, I’m privileged because I made the decisions that the society I live in has told me I should make. “You’re not born a criminal”. Loved this

    Being privileged very much depends on the social and communal actors of the community you are in. I think I am just as privileged for being a white man in a majority white country, as a black man would be in a majority Black Country, or Asian man in a majority Asian country etc.

    When I was in Aberystwyth (Wales), the number of times I felt discriminated against for being English or not knowing how to speak Welsh. Also, at my job (a teacher) for being ‘too’ young. Now say I’m privileged.

    I totally agree with what you are saying about working for what you have. I am not privileged because I am white man born in a majority white country, I am privileged because I made the right choices in life not to be a criminal, to be educated and go to university. I haven’t just got a mortgage and bought a house because I am white, male, straight, etc, but because I have worked hard to have those things.
    Like you said, there are plenty of white straight males in the UK who are criminals and make poor decisions, are they still privileged though?

    The very existence of this idea of privileged hinges on stereotypes and discrimination itself. It’s backwards and counter productive. It’s like using the fact that you are ‘unprivileged’ as an excuse to not make something of yourself and succeed, where as I would use those as my motivation. Like you said “prove people wrong” which is what I do in my job on a daily basis because, you know, I’m “too young” to be a teacher.

    29 February 2016 at 23:13
    • Reply Tina

      Brilliant points! Sorry to hear you felt discriminated against in Wales, but you know I’m Welsh, and I can’t speak it at all, oops! Some people just look for a problem with you. Like you say, it seems counterproductive and an excuse rather than a genuine reason for any short-fallings. Even if the odds are against you, there is still a way to prove people wrong. There are people out there fighting every day for the life they have, but unfortunately this can be overlooked as the ones who aren’t doing that seem to be gaining a louder voice.

      29 February 2016 at 23:21
  • Reply Rosario

    Whilst I agree that putting someone down and being hateful to other people is not helpful in anyway, I’d just like to throw some thoughts out there in defence of ‘privilege’

    I think the main thing about privilege is that it’s not used to make people feel bad about being a straight white male, but rather to say that straight white men don’t have to deal with the same type of discrimination that a not straight, not white, woman has to deal with. As in, a white man’s experiences in life are very different from those of non white people, and therefore will not receive the same racialised discrimination that a brown person will. And I think sometimes this is misinterpreted as being hateful or saying that white males don’t have any problems, but I think it rather points out that race doesn’t affect white people the same way as non white people and therefore their life isn’t affected in the same way. (eg, structural racism, casual racism, stereotypes etc. have an impact on poc’s life) The same applies for sexuality, gender and pretty much all the things on the bingo card.

    i think it’s really important to point out that yes, straight white men experience hardships and have problems, but non straight, non white people experience the same hardships ON TOP OF discrimination and oppression based on their gender/race/sexuality/etc.. and that’s kind of where privilege comes in.
    I find the narrative of ‘I’ve worked for this and you should just do the same as me and the do this the way I’ve done it’ problematic, especially from straight white males because they’re assuming everyone’s life is exactly the same as theirs and either have no idea or are ignoring the fact that race/gender/sexuality etc has an impact on people’s lives.

    So I mean I guess I’d disagree with you on the ‘Everyone has experienced it at some point though.’ As a mixed race girl, I can assure you that my white parent has not experienced these things, and does not quite understand the way race impacts my life, and the impact that has on myself. What I mean is some people experience it more than others and that’s what ‘privilege’ is pointing out.

    ah, this comment turned into a bit of an essay, I guess i’m just really passionate about these things! 🙂

    2 March 2016 at 12:54
    • Reply Tina

      Thanks for your thoughts on this. It’s always great to hear both sides. Please don’t think that I am ignoring the issues that may concern you. I do understand that people can be treated differently due to race and other factors that cannot be helped and wholeheartedly disagree with this. I am really sorry to hear that this affects your life. I am not sure where you live, but I do think in the UK it is much less prevalent than in other places.

      Regarding the ‘bingo card’, I ‘m not sure that I know anyone that ticks every single thing on the list, but most people fit at least a few.
      My main point is that I believe the term ‘privilege’ is being overused and can be turned into an excuse rather than an actual issue, which makes it all the more easy to ignore. In the same way feminism has become the butt of many jokes, it is worrying that something so important could follow suit.

      I understand where people are coming from when they have worked hard and it’s assumed it was easier for them, because that might not necessarily be the case. What I would hate to see come from these discussions is for white males to feel they don’t deserve to reap the rewards of their hard work just because of the colour of their skin. That seems to switch things rather than even them out. I can’t speak from a racial or sexuality standpoint really, but I can speak from a female perspective. If a male is promoted above me,which has happened, I do not automatically believe it is because of his position in life. It might be, but that’s not my initial thought. Ultimately, it just makes me want to work harder. I have definitely experienced sexism, but tend to put an end to it pretty quickly. I just don’t want it to be my go-to response. I am sure that’s not what you’re saying by the way!

      Something that I do think should be considered, and I may well get slated for this, is that the CEOs and the other ‘big guys’ at the top of companies are usually much older and have probably been in the business for a long time. As it is only fairly recently that we have had equal rights and education (which is of course an absolute joke!), I do think it has taken time to catch up, but I really do believe this generation is when things will even out with regards to education, work and other aspects of life.

      3 March 2016 at 12:24
  • Reply Rosario

    Whilst I agree that putting someone down and being hateful to other people is not helpful in anyway, I’d just like to throw some thoughts out there in defence of ‘privilege’

    I think the main thing about privilege is that it’s not used to make people feel bad about being a straight white male, but rather to say that straight white men don’t have to deal with the same type of discrimination that a not straight, not white, woman has to deal with. As in, a white man’s experiences in life are very different from those of non white people, and therefore will not receive the same racialised discrimination that a brown person will. And I think sometimes this is misinterpreted as being hateful or saying that white males don’t have any problems, but I think it rather points out that race doesn’t affect white people the same way as non white people and therefore their life isn’t affected in the same way. (eg, structural racism, casual racism, stereotypes etc. have an impact on poc’s life) The same applies for sexuality, gender and pretty much all the things on the bingo card.

    i think it’s really important to point out that yes, straight white men experience hardships and have problems, but non straight, non white people experience the same hardships ON TOP OF discrimination and oppression based on their gender/race/sexuality/etc.. and that’s kind of where privilege comes in.
    I find the narrative of ‘I’ve worked for this and you should just do the same as me and the do this the way I’ve done it’ problematic, especially from straight white males because they’re assuming everyone’s life is exactly the same as theirs and either have no idea or are ignoring the fact that race/gender/sexuality etc has an impact on people’s lives.

    So I mean I guess I’d disagree with you on the ‘Everyone has experienced it at some point though.’ As a mixed race girl, I can assure you that my white parent has not experienced these things, and does not quite understand the way race impacts my life, and the impact that has on myself. What I mean is some people experience it more than others and that’s what ‘privilege’ is pointing out.

    ah, this comment turned into a bit of an essay, I guess i’m just really passionate about these things! 🙂

    2 March 2016 at 12:54
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